Most Torontonians visit King St. businesses 'as often' or 'more often' since pilot: survey
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2018 6:30AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 28, 2018 1:58PM EST
A new survey analyzing the impact of the King Street pilot project has found that the vast majority of respondents reported visiting businesses in the area as often or more often following the launch of the transit initiative one year ago.
The survey, conducted by Montreal startup Potloc, polled 2,062 Toronto residents about the pilot’s impact on commutes and businesses.
It found that 76 per cent of those surveyed said they visited King Street businesses as frequently, or more frequently, since the pilot was put in place. About 24 per cent said they shopped at local businesses less often.
Approximately 53 per cent of public transport users said they stopped at shops on King Street West more often since the pilot was launched while 81 per cent of drivers said they visited the stores less often.
Close to 70 per cent of pedestrians said King Street is more pedestrian-friendly and 91 per cent of cyclists said they think King Street in more bicycle-friendly.
According to the survey, a strong majority of the most frequent public transit users found that their average travel time on King Street has decreased and streetcar service has improved significantly since the pilot was implemented.
About 69 per cent of public transportation users said they have been using public transit on King Street more often.
“This clearly shows the success of the Transit Pilot on the public transport side,” analysis accompanying the survey read.
Additionally, 41 per cent of pedestrians surveyed said they walk on King Street more often since the pilot was implemented and approximately 57 per cent of the bicyclists surveyed said they rode their bike along King Street more often now.
As for drivers, the survey found that the most frequent motorists on King Street believe the pilot has made their commute worse. Drivers say the pilot has increased their time spent in traffic, according to the survey.
“The consequences are that half of car drivers have decreased the frequency with which they use their car on King Street West. People who have no choice but to use their car on King Street West have fled the area since the Pilot started,” the report’s authors wrote.
The pilot, which was launched last November, restricts vehicular traffic between Bathurst and Jarvis streets in an effort to improve streetcar service in the area.
The transit project has ruffled a few feathers with a group of business owners along King Street who say the pilot has resulted in a drop in transactions.
Over the past year, the city has implemented a number of initiatives to try to attract shoppers to the busy corridor.
The pilot will continue as planned until the end of the 2018 but it is unclear if the transit initiative will be extended.
Respondents would consider expanding pilot to Queen Street
Those surveyed also responded positively to the idea of implementing the pilot on other busy corridors.
"We really thought it would be interesting to see what people thought if that was replicated on a street like Queen Street, for example. Surprisingly, 51 per cent of the people that filled out our survey said they would like to see something like that implemented, whereas 39 per cent were a direct no and about 10 per cent were undecided," Mike Garard, a senior account manager with Potloc, told CP24 on Wednesday.
"The people that really like the pilot project are obviously really passionate about it."
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said city council will review a staff report on the pilot in the New Year.
"(The report) will have all this data in it and it will be carefully analyzed and we’ll see if there are any changes to be made but I certainly think by any measure that you can see so far that this has been a successful pilot project," Tory said.
He added that those who regularly ride along King Street every day have experienced a "much faster" commute.
"The reliability of the King streetcar has improved by I think 50 per cent. The ridership has hugely increased," he said.
"I think for a very modest investment this thing has been by any measure a success. We have some work to do to continue to support the businesses in the area as they adjust to a different kind of transit corridor, but one that is very necessary."